Thomas H. – Human Rights in Argentina
During the summer of 2017, I traveled to Argentina to volunteer with Projects Abroad. As a social science student at the University of Liverpool, I was naturally interested in the Law & Human Rights Project and opted to volunteer in that sector. Whilst I was in Argentina for a period of two months, the time flew by and I wish I could have stayed longer!
Living with an Argentinean host family
Upon landing in Argentina, I was picked up from the airport by my Volunteer Coordinator, Mayca, and we immediately went to visit my host family. Whilst I was initially very nervous due to my lack of Spanish skills, I settled in miraculously quickly due to the hospitality of my host mother, Maria Elena. She made me feel at home and ensured I was comfortable with every aspect of life in Argentina. Her pet cat also helped bring a homely aspect to the house.
The house I lived in was in the center of the city of Cordoba and was shared with a total of four volunteers. The other volunteers were very welcoming and showed me around the city, helping me become acquainted with my new environment. At dinner times, we all spoke Spanish so Maria Elena could understand; this in turn led me to develop my Spanish skills much faster than I would have ever expected!
The food which Maria Elena cooked was perfection and highly typical of Argentina; a range of different foods were cooked each day using red meats, while vegetarian options were also provided which gave a nice change of pace.
There was a range of foods, which I have begun cooking back in the UK because they were simply that great!
My Law & Human Rights placement
My work placement was by far the most satisfying part of my experience. I traveled to a variety of different institutions during my volunteering and met a vast array of people each week; many of these people I still keep in contact with and talk to on a daily basis.
At the start of each week, I worked at a state correctional facility called ‘CESAM’, where young girls are held to serve rehabilitative prison sentences. At this institution, we designed and delivered educational programs to the young females who resided here; themes we focused on included self-esteem and team building.
Similarly, we adapted these programs for delivery at two residential centers for young girls; in these institutions are young girls who are at risk of experiencing human rights violations. Working in these institutions was beyond satisfying and it felt incredible to build a rapport with the young girls.
Another initiative involved working in a social research organization in Argentina; this was my favorite part of the placement as it complimented the masters that I am undertaking in social research methods. The research involved looking at cultural integration and the social issues present in Argentina.
We also worked with the homeless very often, venturing out in the evenings to provide food and soup and to talk to this marginalized population. We also helped individuals get their identification cards, giving them access to a range of social and state services.
The hardest part of the placement was by far the language barrier; it often meant that communicating with the young children and the homeless could be difficult, although it was a barrier, which by the end of the placement I was generally able to bypass. I can honestly say that this was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life to date and this placement was something I can highly recommend.
Traveling in Argentina
Not only did I have the opportunity to have an impact on the society which I became a part of in Argentina, I got to experience some of the vast expanse of Argentina with other volunteers. During my spare time, I had the opportunity to explore locations such as Mendoza, Capilla del Monte and Buenos Aires; I was even fortunate enough to experience the stunning country of Uruguay. All of these locations were absolutely stunning and I can only wish that I have the chance to do it all again with more time. The chance to visit all of these locations was amazing and the experience of sharing it with all the other volunteers really enhanced the experience. I had the chance to meet a host of new people who I had the opportunity to bond with, making many new friends.
The Law & Human Rights Project in Argentina was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I learned many new skills, met a host of new people, explored a new country on the other side of the world to me, and to top it all off, I’ve had a positive impact on an entirely different culture. I would recommend this experience to anyone for as much time as they have available. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.